Urban residents' subtle prejudice towards rural-to-urban migrants in China: The role of socioeconomic status and adaptation styles



The household registration system (Hukou) implemented by the Chinese government divides the Chinese society into two groups: urban residents and rural residents. Since the 1980s, millions of rural residents have migrated to cities without official permission. In this paper, we investigate urban residents' subtle prejudice towards rural-to-urban migrants. Specifically, the impacts of urban residents' socioeconomic status (SES) and their perception of migrants' adaptation styles are examined. A sample including 457 Chinese urban residents is taken from four cities in China. Educational and occupational levels are used to indicate urban residents' SES. Four adaptation styles (integration, assimilation, separation and marginalization) are manipulated by using vignettes. The results show that SES has a negative impact on urban residents' subtle prejudice. This link is further moderated by urban residents' perceptions of migrants' adaptations: the negative effect of SES on subtle prejudice holds only under a perception of integration or assimilation and disappears under a perception of separation or marginalization. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.